Monthly Archives: February 2017

THREE EXPERIENCES THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

I always heard that bad things come in threes.  I never knew good things came in threes as well.  It’s been nice to find out that works too!

In a past blog, I related my good fortune on having three mentors (11/20/13) who supported and helped me in many ways.  Today, I would like to tell you about three experiences in my early life which enhanced my education and proved to be energizing as well as a motivating force in advancing my career.  In addition, they were a positive influence to help live an interesting life and in my attempts to make a contribution.

Number 1:  The first experience was going to the University of Connecticut to explore and then join an intercultural fraternity called Beta Sigma Gamma.  I have written about that experience in previous blogs you can find in the archives on:

  • 3/6/13 – A Short History Of A Small Beginning
  • 6/12/13 – The BSG Back Story
  • 9/9/15 – Gaining Acceptance From BSG
  • 11/30/16 – My Introduction To Racial Bigotry

I won’t repeat all of that here, only to say it fulfilled a belief that people of all races, religions and cultures have far more in common than they have differences.

Number 2:  The second experience came in the 60’s when I moved to Phoenix and joined the Jr. Chamber of Commerce.  The Jaycees were a very active 4 to 500-member civic organization.  I became very involved and learned a lot about planning and managing lots of logistical details on a variety of projects; Chairman of the Christmas Party for 800 or so kids, Chairman of a Model Constitution Convention and State Chairman of a committee to revise the Arizona Constitution.  I was a State Delegate to the first Jaycee Washington, D.C. Conference, as well as member of the Phoenix Board of Directors, Treasurer, Building Manager, Rodeo Parade Marshal and Rodeo Ticket Sales Manager.

It was exciting and fulfilling to be part of a community and be involved in so many worthwhile projects.  Without any question, it was an invaluable aid to my career in managing trade associations and producing consumer and trade shows.

Number 3:  The third experience happened while working directly for one of my major mentors, Dick Reucker.  I worked for Dick as his assistant at the Electric League and then  under his watchful supervision as an independent producer of the 1967 Arizona Home Beautiful Show.

I was working for KTAR-TV as a commission salesman when circumstances materialized for me to take on the creation of the first home remodeling show.  How that came about is kind of a long story by itself.  We’ll save that for another blog.

In effect, I had two full-time jobs with an office at the television station and another one across the parking lot at the Electric League office.

Selling television time was not all that hard so I was able to devote a lot of time, including evenings and weekends, to getting the AHB show off the ground.  The sponsors of the show were the Phoenix newspapers and the Electric League, which provided strong support from both major utilities.

We had a cross section of about 150 exhibitors, including a fully-furnished, double-wide mobile home, some designer gardens and a very entertaining dancing waters show.

The AHB opened on a Thursday with a decent, but light crowd.  On Friday evening, there was a carnival at the school my kids wanted to attend.  Having been at the Coliseum for a solid week, everyone at the show encouraged me to take the night off and go with the family to the school event.

I reluctantly agreed and off we went.  All the kids really wanted was a ride to the school.  As soon as we got there, they were off with their friends.  Standing around, I grew more fidgety and more anxious by the minute.

By the end of an hour, I announced that I couldn’t stay any longer and that I had to get back to the show.  We arranged for neighbors to take the kids home and my wife and I charged back to the Coliseum.

We entered the parking lot from the back and it was full of cars.  As we got closer to the building, we could see big lines of people waiting to buy tickets and get into the show.

With my heart beating and the adrenaline kicking into high gear, I asked my wife to park the car and I ran into the show, excited there were so many people there, but anxious why they weren’t able to get into the show.

As I charged in, I saw there was a really big crowd inside as well.  Somehow, I don’t yet understand how I knew what to do and assertively took charge.  The Fire Marshal had closed the show and didn’t want any more tickets sold.  I threw the Coliseum ticket-sellers out of the box office and gave tickets and make-shift cash boxes to all the people I could find and started reselling tickets.

At the same time, I got a hold of the Fire Marshal and calmed his fears, and convinced him that there was plenty of room.  It all went great!  When it came time for the dancing waters show, there were people filling up the stands nearby.  The finale of this show was undulating water fountains synced to the music of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  It was an amazing, exhilarating feeling.

One of the most exciting nights of my life!  I was hooked on the trade show business.

All three experiences enabled me to enhance my abilities and confidence in the area of marketing that became my life’s work.

I know now good things definitely come in threes.

ArtSchwartzSig

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FIFTY PLACES TO VISIT IN 2017 – PART II

Here’s the other half of the recommendations from the New York Times on the destinations you ought to consider visiting this year.

  1. Gabon, West Africa – Culture and wildlife without crowds. Hippos surfing waves, elephants strolling sandy beaches, gorillas, sea turtles, whales, Gabon is a politically stable African country with abundant wildlife and lodges opening for tourists.
  2. Athens, Greece – Their debt crisis continues but the art scene has expanded. The renovated National Museum of Contemporary Art opened in a former brewery while the Renzo Piano designed Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center opened last year. In 2017, Athens will also co-host “Documenta,” an influential art exhibition.
  3. Northwest Puerto Rico is a new destination for surfers and foodies. A handful of NYC exiles are defying the island’s troubles and turning the tiny town of Isbela into a tourist hotspot that draws escapees from east coast winters.
  4. Chiang Mai, Thailand – There’s an avalanche of art waiting for you in Thailand’s northern second city and much more to do. Visit the local market, walk around the lake, inexpensive massages, cooking schools, and the rescued elephant sanctuary are all worthwhile.
  5. Napa Valley, California – This 29-mile strip has long been regarded as the country’s classic wine region. This year will see a new generation of openings. There will be fresh life with the addition of hotels, restaurants and bespoke breweries.
  6. Puerto Escondido, Mexico – An artsy enclave on the southern Oaxaca coast. In recent years, this former fishing village, with its palapa-lined beaches, has seen the opening of a stylish new Hotel Escondido and a number of haute Mexican restaurants, as well as a new arts complex.
  7. Sedona, Arizona – Sun-soaked luxury amid the energizing red rocks with a plethora of art galleries, restaurants of every variety, and now a growing wine industry. Great for hiking, meditating and relaxation.
  8. Madrid, Spain – Adding to the world-famous museums are the international variety of dining experiences that go way beyond tapas. The Spanish capitol is a visitor’s delight.
  9. Ketchum, Idaho – While the low-key town of Ketchum, home to Sun Valley’s ski slopes and Ernest Hemingway’s gravesite, remains more papa than Prada, new developments suggest a more prominent future while still retaining its unvarnished charm.
  10. The Maldives is off the southeastern tip of South Africa. The island chain may be sinking, but the beautiful entire archipelago has applied for UNESCO biosphere reserve status. With 25 new hotels, it’s a great place to visit.
  11. Calabria – It’s the toe of the Italian boot and making a name for itself in food and wine circles. Known for spicy dishes and outstanding fare outside of Rome or Tuscany.
  12. Antequera, Spain – A Spanish version of Stonehenge in the southwest Andalusia region is an archaeological gem to celebrate. Believed to be over 5,000 years old, these will preserved monuments, along with two nearby mountains, have received World Heritage status.
  13. Lofoten Islands, Norway – One hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle and 2-1/2 hours by plane from Oslo is an idyllic haven for outdoor adventurers and artists. The craggy mountains make it a favorite with hikers, cyclists, kayakers and surfers, as well as a good point (in December) to view the Northern Lights.
  14. Ibera Wetlands, Argentina – 3.2-million-acre wetland in northeast Argentina is still off the radar but the government and NGO’s are involved in extensive rewilding project that is repopulating the area with plants and animals, including jaguars. When complete, it will be a national park and the largest protected area in the country.
  15. Istria, Croatia – Long overshadowed by Dalmatia in the south, the Istria region is gaining new attention thanks to hotel developments and Istria’s other attractions include Roman ruins, fresh truffles, great wines and incredible seafood.
  16. Placencia, Belize – Eco tourism expands in southern Belize. The laidback beach town offers access to the Belize Barrier Reef, prime waters for seasonally diving with whale sharks.
  17. Langtang Region, Nepal – A once crumbly town 40 miles north of Katmandu is springing back. Intrepid now offers a 15-deay Hamang Heritage Trail Trek through Alpine terrain, verdant midlands, rustic villages and monasteries and includes part of the Langtang National Park with an opportunity to meet the Tamang people.
  18. Bozcaada, Turkey – The wing-hugged sliver of an island in the Dardanelles is delightfully secluded. A short plane hop from Istanbul and a leisurely ferry ride gives you a slower way to see Turkey. Covered in vineyards and coves, ancient ruins and two beaches.  The downtown is traffic free.
  19. Birmingham, Alabama – Nicknamed “The Pittsburgh of the South” seems apt anew with the revitalization of the Avondale neighborhood, where artists, restaurateurs and young entrepreneurs are taking over brick warehouses and Queen Anne cottages.
  20. Sacred Valley, Peru – Not as well known as Cusco or Machu Picchu, the valley is a treasure of Inca history and ruins, salt mines and a thriving textile industry, as well as rafting on the Urubamba River.
  21. Laikipia, Kenya – This central region of Kenya is part of a 900,000 protected area for elephants, lions and cheetahs. Game drives and lodges abound and home to the Samburu and Massai, colorful and culturally fascinating tribes.
  22. Busan, South Korea – An underrated second city has become a design hot spot. The Jeompo Café District, a once gritty industrial area, has been transformed into a creative hub packed with boutiques selling local handcrafts and a former hospital reopened as an atmospheric art space.
  23. Portland, Oregon – Booming Portland keeps getting better. The city’s incredible food scene has some notable new players, including a new food hall. Also features a new high-tech bike-share program and a recently-opened light rail that whisks visitors across the eye-catching Tilikum Crossing Bridge and into destination neighborhoods like Sellwood-Moreland.
  24. Budapest, Hungary – This post iron curtain city is a majestic European capital which revels in modernity. The two halves of Buda and Pest are equally charming and exude a youthful energy. Accommodations and food are all top drawer and the Jewish “Cathedral” and museum are an outstanding visit.
  25. Ryukyu Islands, Japan – This archipelago of 160 islands stretches from the southern tip of Japan to 70 miles off Taiwan. This is the Japan you’ve never heard of and features UNESCO heritage sites, 1,000-year-old cedars, the “living fossel” Amanie rabbit, ancient temples, white sand beaches and crystal-clear diving spots.

Could be a great year for travel; lots of interesting destinations to visit.

ArtSchwartzSig

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PRESIDENT LINCOLN

Scholars and historians consider Abraham Lincoln one of the three most influential and effective of our presidents.

Born February 12, 1809, Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.  Lincoln led the U.S. through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and perhaps its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis.  In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.

Born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln grew up on the western frontier.  Largely self-educated, he became a lawyer in Illinois, a Whig Party leader, and was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, in which he served for eight years.  Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846, Lincoln promoted rapid modernization of the economy through banks, tariffs, and railroads.  Because he had originally agreed not to run for a second term in Congress, and because his opposition to the Mexican-American War was unpopular among Illinois voters, Lincoln returned to Springfield and resumed his successful law practice.  Reentering politics in 1854, he became a leader in building the new Republican Party, which had a statewide majority in Illinois.  In 1858, while taking part in a series of highly publicized debates with his opponent and rival, Democrat Stephen Douglas, Lincoln spoke out against the expansion of slavery, but lost the U.S. Senate race to Douglas.

In 1860, Lincoln secured the Republican Party presidential nomination as a moderate from a swing state.  Though he gained very little support in the slaveholding states of the South, he swept the North and was elected president in 1860.  Lincoln’s victory prompted seven southern slave states to form the Confederate States of America before he moved into the White House—no compromise or reconciliation was found regarding slavery and secession.  Subsequently, in April 1861, a Confederate attack on Fort Sumter inspired the North to enthusiastically rally behind the Union.  As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted Radical Republicans, who demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats, who called for more compromise, anti-war Democrats (called Copperheads), who despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists, who plotted his assassination.  Politically, Lincoln fought back by pitting his opponents against each other, by carefully planned political patronage, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory.  His Gettysburg Address became an iconic endorsement of the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.

Lincoln initially concentrated on the military and political dimensions of the war.  His primary goal was to reunite the nation.  He suspended habeas corpus, and he averted potential British intervention in the war by defusing the Trent Affair in late 1861.  Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including his most successful general, Ulysses S. Grant.  He also made major decisions on Union war strategy, including a naval blockade that shut down the South’s normal trade, moves to take control of Kentucky and Tennessee, and using gunboats to gain control of the southern river system.  Lincoln tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond; each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another, until finally Grand succeeded.  As the war progressed, his complex moves toward ending slavery included the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863; Lincoln used the U.S. Army to protect escaped slaves, encouraged the border states to outlaw slavery, and pushed through Congress the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which permanently outlawed slavery.

An exceptionally astute politician deeply involved with power issues in each state, Lincoln reached out to War Democrats and managed his own re-election campaign in the 1864 presidential election.  Anticipating the war’s conclusion, Lincoln pushed a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness.  He was only 56 years old when in April 1865, five days after the surrender of the Confederacy at Appomattox, his life was cut short by John Wilks Booth at the Ford Theater.

The Lincoln Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C., I personally believe, is the most impactful, moving of all the tributes in our nation’s capital.

Each year, 7.1 million people gaze upon the larger-than-life statute that honors our 16th president and his extraordinary efforts to preserve the nation.  It is here at the Lincoln Memorial, one of the most-visited sites in the National Park System, that we renew our American values, express our rights, discover our history—and continue to make history.  It is where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic speech, energizing the civil rights movement.

Unfortunately, this noble monument wears its age poorly.  Significant cracks, mortar loss, damaged brick masonry, roof deficiencies, and years of black biological growth threaten its stone surfaces and structural integrity.

Plans already exist to protect, restore, and enhance this national treasure.  These renovators go far beyond fixing brick and mortar.  If all goes well, in just a few short years, Honest Abe’s current space will undergo an astounding facelift.  Approximately 15,000 square feet of public space will be added to this national treasure.

New areas of the memorial will open to the public.  For the first time in history, you will be able to look into the monument’s underground vault, view its foundational pillars…even see the graffiti of workers who assembled the monument in the early twentieth century.  Enhancing the memorial will bring a new research area, new education center, new ranger office, new restrooms and elevator service, new classrooms and state-of-the-art educational exhibits, and new areas especially for school groups.

Did you know?

  • Architect Henry Bacon modeled the memorial after the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.
  • The columns, like the exterior walls and facades, are inclined slightly inward. This is to compensate for the optical illusion that could make them appear asymmetrical to the naked eye.
  • The marble and limestone that built the Lincoln Memorial come from five different states.
  • The north and south side chambers contain carved inscriptions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address.

It’s a great place to visit in D.C.

ArtSchwartzSig

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WHERE CAN ISRAEL GO FROM HERE?

I have been deeply concerned and disturbed for many years about the situation in the Middle East in general, and Israel in particular.  The recent actions of the Obama administration have ratcheted up my concern to a new higher level of anxiety.

No other president—Democrat or Republican—has thrown Israel under the bus as Obama has with this recent UN resolution, as well as John Kerry’s critical speech on his way out the door.

To understand today’s problems you have to go back at least 50 years to 1967 and the six-day war.  That’s what I did and here’s what I found.

In 1967, all of Israel’s neighbors were dedicated to:

  1. Not wanting Israel to exist (only Egypt and Jordan later pulled out of that axis, because we bought them off).
  2. Unwilling to take in any of the Palestinian exiles, the neighbors preferred they lived in terrible squalor and be a lightning rod for conflict.
  3. Rattling their sabers, staging troops and weapons, and visibly getting ready to attack.
  4. Israel took a preemptive step and in six days took over Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The neighbors’ armies were wiped out.  At the time, the West Bank was a fallow desert, unkept and underdeveloped.

To put this in perspective, let’s now look at the facts on the ground:

Muslims         Jews                Christians & Others

1967:                                      289K              2,393M          130K

2000:                                      1,140M          5,313M          261K

2016:                                      1,800M          6,150M          400K

Increase since 1967:         6x                    2.6x                3x

Writing in the Jewish Journal, David Suissa commented:

“Resolution 242, which followed the 1967 war, in which both parties have been quoting for decades as a basis for negotiations, was explicitly worded to allow Israel to keep parts of the disputed territory it captured during the war, by referring to ‘defensible borders.’

“Even the 1993 Oslo Accord lists ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘settlements’ as ‘issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations.’  The point is, whether the UN thought settlements were illegal or not, peace processors were always savvy enough to allow Israel some leverage and wiggle room to negotiate.

“Resolution 2334, by bluntly characterizing Israel as a land thief and making no distinction between illegal outposts and the Western Wall pretty much obliterates that wiggle room.

“With his failure to veto Resolution 2334, Obama has come full circle.  His draconian demand from nearly eight years ago is now enshrined in the inner sanctum of the United Nations.  He may have convinced himself he was only showing ‘tough love,’ but the reality is that Obama has empowered Israel’s enemies, stripped Israel of its negotiating leverage and rewarded the Palestinians for their intransigence.

“It is the height of chutzpah when Secretary of State John Kerry now lectures Israel on the importance of negotiating a two-state solution.  It’s like saying:  ‘We’ve taken away your negotiating chips—now go make a deal!’”

There have been innumerable attempts at negotiating a peace settlement, including Oslo and Camp David Accords.  In all of them, Israel has proposed or agreed to swapping land for peace.  The Palestinians either never responded or walked away.

In 2002, Abba Eban, the erudite former Foreign Minister of Israel, summed up the negotiations best:  “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Since 2008, negotiations have been further handicapped by the conflict in the Palestinian ranks between Fatah, the traditional dominant party, and the combative Hamas, who refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

In his farewell knifing, Secretary of State John Kerry referred to the “dire” humanitarian situation in Gaza.  On this point, he was accurate, noting that “Gaza is home to one of the world’s densest concentrations of people enduring extreme hardships with few opportunities.”

Kerry added that:  “Most of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million are in need of daily assistance…Most have electricity less than half the time and only 5 percent of the water is safe to drink.”

He rightly blamed Hamas, which, instead of building economic infrastructure and taking care of its people, “continue to re-arm and divert reconstruction materials to build tunnels, threatening more attacks on Israeli civilians that no government can tolerate.”

What Kerry failed to mention is that for the past decade, Israel has consistently and judiciously provided for Gaza’s needs, through an import-export nexus at their border, known as Kerem Shalon.

Since 2006, when Israel imposed an air, land and sea blockade on Gaza—a response to Hamas launching rockets into southern Israel—Kerem Shalom, nestled on the border between Israel, Gaza and Egypt, became a lifeline for the 1.8 million living in the strip.  Much of the time, Israel is solely responsible for the flow of goods going in and out of Gaza.  This is not either country’s wish, of course; but Israel took measures to protect itself, and ever since, has had to face the unique predicament of providing for her enemy.

Certainly there have been differing views, which I considered, from the Middle East Policy think tank in Washington, D.C., from letters to the L.A. Times and commentaries in the Jewish Journal who have suggested:

  • The West Bank settlements help the peace process (not sure how).
  • The UN resolution isn’t all that bad (anything could be worse).
  • Trump’s promise to toss out Obama’s Israel policies (we hope so).
  • Israel has no legitimate right to any of the West Bank or East Jerusalem (not true, according to UN Resolution 242).
  • The two-state solution is dead. Other alternatives have to be found.

After a fair amount of thoughtful consideration, I have personally come to this conclusion:

  1. Israel’s continued aggressive expansion of West Bank settlements is not helping world opinion or attempts to bring the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table. Israel’s patience, however, has run thin.  They simply don’t have a real negotiating partner.
  2. President Obama’s decision to allow Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass was very harmful to Israel. By endorsing the anti-Israel narrative that every square inch of territory captured by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967—including the Jewish Quarter in East Jerusalem and the Western Wall—is “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” and that Jewish presence in those areas is a “flagrant violation of international law,” Obama didn’t just through renegade West Bank settlers to the wolves—he threw all of Israel.

The UN resolution is the weapon Obama has provided to Israel’s enemies.  It would be silly to expect they won’t use it.  So, yes, allowing this resolution to pass is harmful to Israel and is a shameful final act for a president who has always claimed to have Israel’s back.

But it is shameful and tragic for another reason as well—because it has virtually killed the peace process.

By endorsing a resolution that effectively turns Israel into an outlaw state, Obama has eliminated all incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate, let along compromise.  In other words, if Israel’s No. 1 ally already has decided that 550,000 Israeli Jews are illegally occupying “Palestinian territory,” what is there for the Palestinians to negotiate?

What is often overlooked is that previous UN resolutions and international and bilateral agreements did not put Israel in such a box and allowed plenty of room for the parties to negotiate.

This ill-advised abstention of the UN resolution is the forth legacy of a failed Obama Middle East policy.  The other three are:

  1. Failure to destroy ISIS early and outright, creating thousands of deaths and millions of refugees.
  2. The Iran Nuclear Deal that has successfully empowered and financed the Mullah-ocracy.
  3. The debacle of the Syrian red line.

In 1974, Golda Meier, the then retiring Prime Minister of Israel, said, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”

What do you think?

ArtSchwartzSig

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